South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff confirmed on Wednesday that North Korea had test-fired two
short-range cruise missiles toward the West Sea from its western port county of Oncheon early on Sunday.
This is North Korea's first test-firing of missiles in eleven months and the first since U.S. President Joe Biden took office.
The JCS confirmation comes after the Washington Post and Reuters cited U.S. officials as confirming the test-fire and speculated the move was a way to pressure the Biden administration as it reviews its North Korea policy.
Regarding the North's recent test-fire though, President Biden shrugged off the missile tests.
"According to the Defense Department, it's business as usual. There's no new, there's no new wrinkle in what they did."
The last time the JCS confirmed that North Korea had test-fired multiple short-range cruise missiles was last April that time from the east coast toward the East Sea.
The JCS added the missiles were not ballistic, which would've been a violation of UN Security Council resolutions and that they're part of North Korea's wintertime drills that usually run through the end of March.
Some local experts believe, however, the recent test-firing is more than just being part of a drill.
They see the move as an attempt to send a message to the U.S. without being too provocative that it's a warning that Pyeongyang could gradually resume more provocative actions in the future to pressure Washington.
"At the eighth congress of the ruling Workers' Party in January, North Korea had mentioned it would develop mid-to-long range cruise missiles. The recent test-fire is part of Pyeongyang's elaborate long-term plan to test-fire its cruise missiles from its western side toward the East Sea."
North Korea's development of cruise missiles is seen part of efforts to develop surface-to-ship missiles that can evade radar detection by flying at low altitudes as well as improve their ability to frequently change direction, making them difficult to intercept.
Kim Ji-yeon, Arirang News.